Sinclair Ferguson has recently released his second advent themed book, Love Came Down. Together with his previously published Child in the Manger, this has quickly become one of my favorite sources for advent meditations. That is not at all surprising, as I have found Sinclair's advent sermons to be among the most thought provoking and spiritually enriching. There are gold nuggets in all of them. For instance, in one of his sermons on the virgin birth, Sinclair explained,
"If God was to speak the language and the mathematics and the physics that was necessary to express creation out of nothing and virginal conception, our minds would seek to expand to their limit--to take it in until we reach the the point that we said, 'I'm sorry that I asked the question. I am just a man or a woman, a boy or a girl. This is too great for me!' And you see, that's the point that we come to recognize that here is the difference between the believer and the unbeliever. That's the point where the believer is content to say, 'You are God and I am not, and I'm content that it should be that way.' Whereas the unbeliever will say, with Friedrich Nietzsche, 'If there is a God who can do such things, how can I bear not to be that God; and so I will not believe.' Yes, it is an amazing, supernatural miracle; but like God's great works-creation, incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection-done safe from men's prying eyes. He brings light out of darkness. He brings His Son into the dark womb of a virgin."
Dr. Ferguson preached a significant number of advent sermons during his time at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC. He has also preached a few in St. George's Tron in Glasgow, Scotland and in St. Peter's Free Church in Dundee, Scotland. You can find these messages below:
St. Peter's Free - Carol Service (Matthew 2:1-12)
The Incarnate Word (John 1:14)
Led by Another Way (Matt. 2:1-12)
The Rejected Word (John 10:1-13)
The First Woman in His Family Tree (Gen. 3:1-21)
The Light Giving Word (John 1:4-9)
Mary: Mother of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38)
The Eternal Word (John 1:1-3)
Joseph: The Prophet (Matt. 1:18-25)
Joseph: The Journeyman (Luke 2:1-75)
How Christmas Brings Everything You Need (Heb. 2:5-18)
Adoration: the Effect of Christmas #1 (Luke 2:14)
Incarnation: the Meaning of Christmas (John 1:1-14)
The Man with PCSS (Post-Christmas Stress Syndrome) (Matt 2:1-15)
Jesus, Name Above All Names: Immanuel (Matt. 1:18-25)
Name Above All Names: Jesus (Matt. 1:18-25)
Jesus, Name Above All Names: The Fourfold Name (Isaiah 9:2-7)
A Troubling Visitor (Luke 1:5-25)
Magnificat (Luke 1:30)
Announced Very Unexpectedly (Matt. 1:18-25)
Prepared in Ancient History (Matt. 1:1-17)
Promised in Earliest Prophecy (Gen. 3:1-15)
Glory to God in the Highest (Luke 2:8-20)
The Coming of Messiah (Isaiah 9:6)
It Was the Best and Worst of Times (Luke 1:26-38)
Last night, I preached a sermon on Psalm 7--one of the lamentation Psalms of David, which he presumably wrote while hiding from Saul in the caves of Adullam. A good portion of the Psalm is taken up with David crying out to the Judge of all the earth. The Psalmist calls on the Lord to come and judge the wicked. In so doing, he draws on the imagery of all people of the earth being congregated before the throne of God as they wait on the Judge of all the earth to render His judgment (Ps. 7:7-8). All of which reminded me of a section in John L. Girardeau's famous sermon, "The Last Judgment," in which he painted the most sobering picture of the final judgment. Girardeau envisioned all people, from all nations, throughout all time summoned before the divine tribunal on the Last Day:
"How unspeakably solemn! A world in one vast congregation! See, multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! Farther than the eye can reach extends a boundless sea of human beings, swayed to and fro with new and unutterable feelings. Before the august Judge are gathered all nations, and He proceeds to separate them one from another as a shepherd divided his sheep from the goats. He sets the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. All human and perishing distinctions are swept away. The mask is torn from hypocrisy, the veil stripped from secrecy, the paint and varnish expunged from the face of deceit. Missed are the strut and fret of 'a little brief authority.' The tiara, the mitre and the crosier, the chasuble, stole and cowl are looked for in vain. The tinseled insignia of rank and the gilded baubles of nobility, the arms of heraldry and the stars and crosses of honor are rent away from human beings, and leave them to appear as they are--'naked, unvarnished, unappendaged men.' The standards, ensigns, and gonfalons of earthly parade float not in the air of the judgment morn. Beauty, wealth, and power, gifts, talents, and fame,--of what avail are they now without true and heartfelt religion? The righteous and the wicked, the followers and the foes of Christ,--these are the only distinctions which have a place in that overwhelming presence. Each one of that immense concourse is seen. Each one is known. Each one must give account of himself to God. No one shall share responsibility with his fellows. No one shall shield himself behind the instruction, the counsel, the example of others; no one shall cover himself with the skirt of minister, parent or friend. Families are sundered; individuals are parted from individuals by a discrimination awfully searching and particular. Oh, what a sifting! Jehovah's fan is in his hand, and he winnows the chaff from the wheat: He gathers the wheat into His garner, and consigns the chaff to unquenchable fire.
Now is the day of full redemption come to those who served their Lord amidst temptations, trials, and fears, and waited and prayed and longed for His second glorious appearing. Clad in Jesus' righteousness, washed in Jesus' blood, pleading Jesus' atoning merits, they stand at His right hand and look into His smiling face. 'Come,' says the King, 'Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty and ye gave Me drink: I was a stranger and ye took Me in: naked and ye clothed Me: I was sick and in prison and ye came unto Me. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.' 'Enter ye into the joy of your Lord.' O welcome word! O thrice happy souls! Their tribulation is past, their conflict with the world, the flesh and the Devil is ended, the narrow way has all been trod, death, their last enemy, is conquered, and not one of them remains a tenant of the grave. The last battle has been fought, the last sin has been committed, the last tear is wiped away. The world's laugh and frown are alike no more. No more the cross, the fire and the stake. No more the chain, the dungeon and the rack. Shout, ye ransomed sinners, shout! For yours are harps of gold, crowns of righteousness, the beatific vision of God, and the celestial glory that faded not away."
A few more laughs, a few more tears, a few more sighs and we will all find ourselves in that one great assembly, standing shoulder to shoulder in the collective mass of humanity before the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and the Judge of all the earth. "How unspeakably solemn" indeed.
A quick note: Lee Gatiss has edited George Whitefield's Sermons in two volumes for Crossway. The two hardbound volumes are available from Amazon for £37.79 at the moment, but the whole shebang is available in a Kindle edition for only £10.52.
No idea how long this offer will last so bag it quickly.
Last week, the Lord granted me the privilege to attend the Worship God '08 conference hosted by Sovereign Grace Ministries and Bob Kauflin. The conference was wonderfully cross-centered, full of joy, and instructive. I appreciate those brothers making the time beneficial to music neophytes like myself. The conference audio is posted here.
And I'd especially like to draw your attention to David Powlison's sermon, "Enduring Hardship with the Psalmist." I'm familiar with Powlison's very helpful written works, but this was the first time I've heard him speak. In the very laid back (he effortlessly preached in a Hawaiin shirt and sandals; not even the guy from Cayman could pull that off!), calm, and instructive tone I imagine from his books, he led us through an overview of many psalms and their relation to one another, opened up Psalm 28 in detail, and showed us Christ throughout. If folks are thinking about suffering, trying to comfort someone who is suffering, or simply want to understand many of the Psalms better, this is a great talk. Highly recommend it.